December 31, 2010


As with any year, there are certain films I've missed at the cinema. Whether it's because they were only out for two weeks, I never got around to seeing them or they just plain never came out, what follows is a run-down of some films I totally and utterly missed. And then there are some films I saw that were utter mindfucks. 


Being in New Zealand means we can miss out on a bunch of movies sadly. What with us being way down in the nether regions of the world the actual cost of freighting an actual, physical film print must be, well, pretty astronomical (as a side note, I wonder how the digital distribution of films will affect the release slate here?). So, distributors must surely have some sort of arcane formulae for calculating whether they'd make a profit or not, right? They couldn't just randomly decide what films would be release and what wouldn't, could they? 

Waking Sleeping Beauty
This is a film I've read a little bit about from a variety of American movie websites: it's a documentary on the Mouse House and the animators who used to work in the Magic Kingdom of Walt Disney. It's a film I'm hoping to see next year: whether at the World Cinema Showcase or the Film Festival I would be gobsmacked if this doesn't play somewhere in NZ next year.

Valhalla Rising
By the beard of Odin! This is a film I've been looking forward to for at least a year. It's directed by Nicolas Winding Refn (the Pusher trilogy, Bronson), has Mads Mikklesen (Casino Royale) as a one-eyed viking warrior and, oh yeah, it's about frakking vikings! It even made Empire magazines end of year Top 20. I felt for sure this would've been at the Film Festival or at least as a limited release at the Paramount. No such luck. Perhaps it'll be at the 2011 World Cinema Showcase.

Le Donk and Scor-Zay-Zee
Yet another Festival favourite director not making the cut this year. This time it's Shane Meadows and his mate Paddy Considine with a musical mockumentary thing. I don't even know if this has a DVD release here.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
This is one that truly baffles me. Nicolas Cage going batshit. Festival favourite director Werner Herzog. Outstanding reviews (if not outstanding box office). In fact, the Film Festival wanted to show this. But the distributors, in their infinite wisdom, saw fit to send it straight to DVD. 
This annoys me.

This well reviewed French crime thriller starring Vincent Cassel was split into two parts. It actually played at the French Film Festival: but with only one showing and in the middle of the day during the week it was a bit hard to get to. Baffling programming.


And then these are the films that were release, that I wanted to see and then... didn't. Machete and Centurion were out all of two weeks before disappearing from cinema screens. The others here... well, I just didn't quite make it to the cinema. It happens. This list DOESN'T include films that came out in 2010 that there was no frakking way in seven hells I was going to see. Like Marmaduke.



The Ghost Writer


The Expendables

Fish Tank

Nowhere Boy




2010 seems to have been the biggest year for mindbending going on at the cinema. Even one of the biggest hits of the year had people scratching their heads and engaging in long conversations about what it all meant. And then there was Inception.

I'm still undecided about this film. You cannot deny it's powerful and that it provokes debate though. Is it misogynistic? Shocking for shocking's sake? An art-house horror? And what the fuck was with the talking fox? I certainly won't be watching it again, but there is a little part of me that is glad this film is out there. It's many things at once and I think von Trier disappeared up his own arse, but the fact that there is this... thing, this direct contrast to the mind-numbing blockbusters. Well, that is a good thing.

Enter the Void
And talking about disappearing up one's own arsehole... well, what can one say about this loose adaptation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead? What I can say is, without a shadow of a doubt, there was not another film like Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void this year. It's a marathon watch: epileptic fit-inducing credits, beautiful imagery, repugnant characters played by terrible actors, wandering non-plot...It really is endurance cinema as it meanders for over 2 and a half hours! But you cannot vault the bravery and vision on display. Again, it's not one I'll watch again and it certainly won't make my end of year list... but it's a film I'm glad is out there; that there is still room in this world for something so... unique.

Ahem. I saw this on the last day of Film Festival, exhausted and more than a little hungover. I'm sure I nodded off a couple of times. That may actually have worked for the film, with it worming it's way into my subconscious. There wasn't much plot to be had and the whole thing was incredibly oblique. But it had an obvious love for the old Italian genre/giallo films that soaked through the screen.

December 29, 2010


2010 has been an interesting year for me with the movies. A lot of that is due to this blog I’ve been keeping since midway through. I’ve noticed a distinct change from my first write-ups that I started as just something for me, and my more recent writings that tend to go on a bit longer. I hope this means my writing has improved and that I am thinking and engaging with these films more and not just becoming a pompous windbag. Although if this means I get to wear a crushed velvet smoking jacket, then I shan't worry overly much.

I think I’ll break up this end of year review over the next few days, finishing up with my final pick of films for 2010. In fact, probably not until early in the new year will I reveal my picks - there are still films to see in 2010! For now, I'll start with a more general wrap up of the year. Don't forget to email your lists in too! Be it movies, music or... well, anything really.

The General Wrap-up

2010 got off to quite a slow start. It wasn’t until the end of February and Scorsese’s Shutter Island that I was really well and truly impressed by something at the cinema. And it wasn’t until the end of March (a full quarter of the yea!) that we got a film that has made it on to my 2010 Favourites. The “summer” blockbuster season was, quite frankly, utter shit. This may have been due to some sort of ripple effect of the Writer's Strike of 08, but to me it smacks more of an off year. I’m one of the few who enjoyed Iron Man 2 but even I’ll admit that it was underwhelming. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was absolute goat-balls and none of the other big studio releases really inspired - I just plain stayed away (no Expendables or Salt for me); until Inception and Toy Story 3 anyway.

It has been one of the strongest years for animation though – How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, The Illusionist, A Town Called Panic etc. These have been heartfelt, moving, hilarious and, well, a damned sight better than a lot of the live-action releases. Anyone who says animated movies are just for kids... well, we need to have words. Which makes it all the more baffling they couldn’t get enough nominees (short by one film! One!) to widen the Oscar field.

This year’s annual Film Festival was the biggest for me, in terms of films seen. In two and a half weeks I saw 47 films (only three shy of my initial target!) and successfully blogged about them (check 'em out on the right!). It was… exhausting. But exhilarating at the same time. 47 was a lot of films, with a fair share of duds and unwatchables but then there were also the blasts of cinematic awesomeness that make it all worth it.

I’ve been ushering/cashiering the Festival since 2002 and this was one of the smoothest Festivals I’ve been involved in. Yes, there was a missing row of seats at the Paramount (quickly replaced), and there was a ticketing balls-up that meant some of the earliest ticket buyers got some of the worst seats but these sorts of issues were handled. There was no fire alarm between two full houses. No film sliding off the platter mid-show. No flairs on the stairs.

No, the biggest problem at Film Festival 2010 was… the audiences. I don’t know if it was because I was an usher this year (and thus more exposed to the seething mass of idiots that make up the mass of consumers) or if it was the continuing spiral downwards but the audiences this year were some of the worst I’ve ever encountered. Which is not to say that the vast majority of people were puppy-murdering jackanapes, but at every single screening there were late-comers (as in, 20 minutes) and texters. The bane of my cinematic existence; texters. You would think (or I would hope) that the audience at a film festival would have less idiots on their cellphones. Not so much.

Outside of the Film Fest and in direct contrast to previous years, there was a paucity of superhero/comic-book films at the multiplexes. The aforementioned Iron Man 2 was the biggest tentpole release, with Kick Ass and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World being somewhat smaller in scale (and, sadly, box office). Don't take this for the beginning of a trend though.

My big thanks for the year are saved for the Embassy Theatre/Event Cinemas. Throughout the year the Embassy has had Friday night screenings of some beloved classics (mainly from the 80's). And after Event took over the cinema arm of Sky City Entertainment they treated us to Sunday matinee shows of bonafide classics. So, thanks to these guys I've seen not only Ghostbusters and The Goonies in a cinema but also Touch of Evil and Badlands. That is my definition of awesome and I hope they keep it up (and moreso) next year.

December 21, 2010


Poster by the Master (aka Drew Struzan)
Oh boy. This was my first film in two weeks. That's ages man. Ages. Some people need to watch sports or soap operas or take crack cocaine; I'm hooked on celluloid. And what a lovely pre-Christmas treat to see a Muppet movie at the cinema! The only other Muppet movie I've seen on the big screen was Muppet Treasure Island when it first came out (and which is still one of my favourites despite the mullet-haired lead child). It would be the height of awesome to see the original The Muppet Movie on a wonderful cinema screen (hint, hint Embassy). Oh, and this was also my 100th film of the year.

The Muppet Christmas Carol (in case you’re from another dimension and haven’t heard one of the 236,702 versions of it) retells Dickens' classic tale of miserly bastard Ebenezer Scrooge being visited by three Christmas spirits with a cast of Muppets and Michael Caine. At times it seems a bit of a forced mish-mash with the typical Muppet madness juxtaposed with Dickens' darkness. But all your favourites (bar Sweetums) make an appearance: from Fozzie and Kermit to the violent babies and singing vegetables.

Speaking of singing, the songs littered throughout are fine enough I guess. They're not anywhere on par with It's Not Easy Being Green or The Rainbow Connection, but those would be tough to match. Frankly, the songs aren’t all that memorable and occasionally get in the way of goings on. They’re not helped by Michael Caine occasionally looking a bit lost amongst all the singing and dancing Muppets. Flight of the Conchords’ Bret McKenzie was in attendance at the session and I’m sure he’s going to bring something special to the songs in the upcoming Muppet Movie.

After that last paragraph you may be thinking I didn’t enjoy the movie and spent the runtime slouched in my seat, muttering “Bah! Humbug”! Why, dear reader, nothing could be further from the truth! This are piffling gripes! The Muppets are as joyful to watch as ever and Brian Henson, the son of the famous founder, marks his feature length directing debut. While he may not carry the same spark as his dad, he’s certainly more than up to the task. Michael Caine plays his Scrooge dead straight with nary a nudge or a wink to the Muppetry ensuing around him. This works particularly well in the scenes with the Spirits of Christmases Past and Yet to Come; the imposing, cloaked Spirit of the latter is a fantastic indication of just what the Henson Company could really achieve.

Seeing this, at the movies with an appreciative audience (and filled with kids - more than a few brought long because of their parents' love for The Muppets I'm sure) was a real joy. I'm a big-time Muppet fan and cannot wait for the new Muppet movie. This was a timely reminder of just how much I miss seeing these felt characters up on the big screen.

December 17, 2010


First time feature film director Gareth Edwards is someone who obviously comes from the Robert Rodriguez approach to filmmaking; in that he’s a multi-hat wearing one-man band. He's the film's writer, director, cinematographer and special effects lead. And his debut film is really something special: a film of ideas, relationships, subtlety and heart. Oh, and great fuck-off aliens.

The story of Monsters is deceptively simple: set 6 years after alien life-forms have crash landed in Mexico; the whole area has now been quarantined as an “infected zone”. The American military regularly bomb the zone, in the hopes of containing the creatures. In Central America, US photo-journalist Andrew Kaulder has to babysit his boss’ daughter Sam as she tries to get home to America. The initial plan, to skirt the quarantine zone by boat, goes awry and the two unlikely travelling companions have to traverse through the decidedly more dangerous infected zone.

The easy comparison to make is with last year's low budget alien sci-fi District 9. And while there are indeed similarities (the affect of resident extra-terrestrials, low budget but awesome visual effects, improvised dialogue) I think Monsters is altogether subtler and carries a different tone to it altogether. The better comparison, to my mind at least, is to Douglas Jones' Moon; it carries a similar atmosphere and both are, essentially, two-handers. But heck, if we're talking comparisons you could also say Monsters is a small budget, low-fi Jurassic Park. Really, it's part of a larger trend; a trend that includes D9, Cloverfield and Moon, for low budget thought-provoking sci-fi. Not only have all these films been made on considerably lower budgets (and outside the usual Hollywood studio system) they also all carry big ideas and really great character work. While I think the the big flashy Will Smith brand of sci-fi certainly has its place, I much prefer the smaller, more intelligent sci-fi films. I'm a sci-fi geek, and I prefer to get my brain engaged with what's going on rather than just sitting back looking at all the pretty effects and explosions.

The visual effects in Monsters are indeed impressive (even more so for the whole film being done under $1mil!) and they work because of their scarcity; they're only used when absolutely necessary. But the real visual shock comes from the smaller moments captured by Edwards: images like Kaulder and Sam looking down on a Mexican church filled with thousands of candles for the dead, or rusted out boats abandoned on riverbanks. The performances from the leads (the only professional actors in the cast) are understated and real. Scoot McNairy as the photog Kaulder is, well... he starts out as a bit of a dick. But, thanks in part to McNairy, you warm to him their trek progresses and Kaulder changes. Whitney Able as the boss' daughter Sam thankfully doesn't play as a useless heiress/daddy's girl. Thanks to her and Edwards, she's a more well rounded character than that. As opposed to Kaulder, she actually speaks the language; she's the one taking the lead in a lot of situations. She has a vulnerability and more than a hint of sadness. But Able gives her an inner strength. Basically, these are two people who, under normal circumstances would never have met. And they have to make this strange, wondrous, perilous journey together.

While the similarly low budget, and alien themed, Skyline has been sucking up all the headlines and advertising space (and bad reviews) the far superior Monsters is already out of cinemas. This is one of those great sci-fi films, with great characters and ideas; the best have ideas that encourage other ideas. It used to be you needed a huge budget to make a sci-fi films with aliens or robots or whatever... but thanks to films like Monsters that's no longer the case.

Edwards has made a bold, striking, simple and beautiful film. There are brilliantly evocative shots that are never overstated and the tale is a simple road movie about two unlikely people growing close to one another. Edwards moves effortlessly from a scene of taut terror directly into something of striking and ephemeral beauty. Monsters is a gem of a film and one I’m looking forward to visiting again.

December 13, 2010


Joyfully, this darkly funny Finnish film was not what I was expecting at all. This is a welcome change for me; too often I spoil it for myself by devouring various film news items and reviews. And being the consumer of a large number of films, I can often guess each beat of a film (especially the more mainstream fare) from the trailers alone. So, to walk into this with no solid expectations and to then have those I did have utterly confounded… quite a delight in of itself.

So what was I expecting from this? For a start I was expecting something closer to a more traditional horror film, sort of a  Silent Night, Deadly Night, but with an actual Santa Claus instead of a psycho dressed as Santa. But no. Rare Exports is smarter than that. This is closer in tone to a (very) dark Spielbergian kids action-adventure film from the 80’s; maybe something Joe Dante could’ve directed (Gremlins - soon to be added to my Catch Up Classics).

It takes the core of its story from the more traditional myths around Santa Claus, specifically the ones where Santa is a punisher and devourer of naughty children rather than some benevolent red suited old chimney climber. Certainly not the jolly red fat man from the Coca Cola commercials (as an aside: I love this sort of stuff in general; the pagan, often dark origins, of generally accepted traditions). From there it builds a cracking adventure film with genuine feelings of danger and mystery swirling around the icy, forbidding landscape.

It all kicks off with a mysterious dig on top of a mountain near the border of Finland and Russia. It is sponsored, as is cinematic law, by an eccentric millionaire with a crazy dream. This is witnessed by two local kids; one of them our hero Pietari. The dig strikes something that shouldn't be found in a mountain. Something that, if sense prevailed, should never be disturbed... But this is a movie and it's not too long before shit starts getting disturbed all over the place. Y'see, something is unleashed from that big hole in the ground. Something dark. Something frightening. Something... Christmassy. You better watch out indeed. Pietari, of course, is one of those plucky young kids who knows more about what's going on than the adults.

And a quick note on that: the relationship sketched out between Pietari and his father (a widower) is one of quiet heartbreak and struggle. The father tries his best with the running of the household, but he's not someone who has ever done this before. You also get the impression that the father never quite understood his son, as he's still a boy and his father is one of those manly men that really only understands other men. And those other men make quite the motley collection of adults that join up with Pietari.

With a film like this, tone is of paramount importance and writer/director Jalmari Helander balances it perfectly. The terrifying moments of childhood are keenly felt: from not wanting to disappoint your dad, to the fear of the dark unknown just beyond the back door. But then there are also the moments of a really great adventure; the type of adventure you have as a kid, running around in the great outdoors. And boy, are those outdoors looking amazing here. You haven't seen beautiful, snowcapped and massive mountains like this since Frodo went for a wander. However, I'm not sure if it was shot on digital as well, but it was projected digital and I'll admit: I'm an old fogey. I much prefer watching something on film. It's more than the knowledge of the physical film strip being projected; there's some unidentifiable otherness to digital.

I initially thought the end would’ve made an excellent film or 2nd Act twist in itself, and then I discovered that the whole feature acts as something of a prequel for two short films on the same theme (and keeping all of the same actors which you can find here and here). It's a fantastic Christmas tale and makes for a welcome refresher from the schmaltzy pap that generally gets churned out at this time of year (interestingly enough, I think this is the only Christmas themed release out in 2010...). Made for a budget paltry by Hollywood standards this offers up more fun, adventure and inventiveness than almost anything else this year. To be enjoyed by adults and (intelligent, maybe slightly odd) kids alike.

December 7, 2010

03.12: EASY A

Would it be terrible if I said
"the writing's on the wall"?
Much like 10 Things I Hate About You was a high-school set retelling of Taming of the Shrew, the Emma Stone star vehicle Easy A is a comedic high-school spin on The Scarlet Letter. It’s a smart and sassy film; much like its lead actress.

This type of film stands or falls on the strength of its lead; there’s no doubting that this is a star vehicle crafted for up and coming Emma Stone. Easy A can stand tall, as Emma Stone, despite her relative lack of acting experience, is a winning screen presence and a fine comedic actress. This is her Mean Girls. Or, considering where Lindsay Lohan is now, hopefully more her Juno.

In fact, those two films are an excellent indication of where this is aiming: Easy A has all the sharp wit and intelligence of Tina Fey’s script for Mean Girls and the quirk and snappy dialogue inherent to Diablo Cody’s Juno. I know some may be put off by the deliberately quirky touches and the highly intelligent, pop-culturally knowing dialogue but it was all done so well it just became part of the cloth of the film.

Emma Stone stars as fairly anonymous high-schooler Olive; she’s not the most popular girl in school, but neither is she ostracised. That is, not until one little lie about a non-existent one-night stand spins out of control. It is then she experiences these two extremes of high-school: she's popular with all the boys while the ostracism is lead by Amanda Bynes’ short skirted moral crusader. She’s fine enough as the snooty Christian, even if Mandy Moore did it better in Saved! and the film (bravely it must be said) takes real aim at the Christian characters: none of them make it out unscathed. In the midst of it all Olive starts to relish the role of school harlot, playing up to it and helping out some less than popular guys with fake trysts, before she discovers what a double-edged sword that kind of rep can be. Especially when her best friend turns on her.

The real scene stealers are Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson as the requisite caring and kooky parents. Both of them are obviously having a lot of fun with their roles, Tucci scoring a lot of the really choice lines and Clarkson doing something strangely wonderful: she seems like an old flower child, ditzy at times but with a lot of smarts. Thomas Haden Church also hands in a wonderfully dry performance as Olive's favourite teacher, Mr. Griffith while Lisa Kudrow relishes her role as his wife and school guidance counsellor Mrs. Griffith; who is something of an uncaring bitch. Or at least a harried, unsympathetic character.

The difference between what is acceptable sexual behaviour for a young man and what is acceptable for a young woman is acknowledged (how could it not be?) but never focused specifically on. And by that, I mean it's one of the themes of the film but not one they get too caught up in hammering away at. Which is fine as it's a self-evident dynamic. We do get a mix in and mention of John Hughes and his classic 80's teen romances, with an appropriate homage in the third act.

My only real issue is that it all doesn't quite feel as good as it could. It is very, very good and more than enjoyable: it's breezy, funny and doesn't dumb things down. I just felt some things needed to be tightened up just that little bit more, such as the rushed resolution with Olive's best friend and not all the performances are out-and-out stellar.

But this are piffling gripes! It's a real joy to watch a film (a rom-com no less) with a strong female lead character. This really is Emma Stone's film; it's her first starring role and is really her debut as a bonafide movie star. She's an intelligent comedic actress with charm, chutzpah and charisma. It'll be interesting to see where her career takes her from here.

December 6, 2010


I have been quite the lucky film fan this year. 2010 has been a banner year for me seeing classic films on the big screen. And what better way to cap it all off than with a 35mm print of Billy Wilder’s 1959 comedy classic Some Like It Hot?

Thankfully, this is not one of the films on my “Catch Up Classics” list as I’ve caught this _ comedy a few times now. The first time I was introduced to Sugar, “Daphne” and “Josephine” I was working at a video store. Me and one of the guys I worked with would take it in turns picking and playing movies in store. One day he picked out Some Like It Hot. Sure, watching this on a shitty little TV as I served customers (damnable customers!) probably wasn’t the best way to first experience this madcap tale, but damn if I didn’t enjoy it.

If anyone reading this hasn’t seen it (who are you? Do I know you?), I’ll give you the quick gist: Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis are two struggling musicians in Depression era Chicago. As their continuing poor luck would have it, they happen to witness the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. They’re eyeballed by the gangsters and have to hightail it outta town – and fast! it just so happens they know of a gig leaving for Florida the next day. The catch? It’s an all-girl band. Hi-jinks, love, hot jazz and hilarity ensue as they smuggle themselves aboard.

Jack Lemmon really hams it up as the put upon bass player Jerry/Daphne while Tony Curtis is the fast talking saxophone man with a plan Joe/Josephine/Junior. Tony Curtis (or “Coitus” as he preferred to pronounce it) was indeed an attractive young man and Lemmon carries a certain eager boyishness with him, and they play off each other with aplomb. They give the appearance of being a double act that has worked together for years. And Curtis' bizarre Cary Grant impression as his millionaire disguise is quite a treat.

My goodness. How have I managed to get this far in my blathering without even mentioning the wonderful Marilyn Monroe? She's Sugar - the ukulele player and singer in the band. She is, by her own admission, not very bright and Monroe plays her with a beguiling innocence. She's someone who has been hurt in the past but, somehow, it doesn't stop her from seeing (or hoping for) the best in people. Which helps to explain how she fall for Joe posing as wealthy oil tycoon, Junior while telling Jerry (as Daphne) and Josephine (aka Joe) all about it. And she's Marilyn! She's sultry, beautifully curvy and blessed with a true comedienne's touch. Though there are persistent rumours of difficulty with her on set, none of that really matters when you get to see the end product.

Director Wilder keeps everything humming along; you barely have time to catch your breath before there's the introduction of deluded suitor (and real millionaire) Osgood Fielding III, the Chicago gangsters, engagements, broken hearts, chases, unmaskings and true love. He displays his sure touch in many scenes, with standouts coming at you constantly: whether it's the opening bust, the party in Daphne's train bed, the late night tango or Marilyn biking to the waterfront and Joe. It's a whirligig whirlwind of a comedy with intelligence, charm and is truly laugh out loud funny. 

White Chicks it ain't.

December 1, 2010


It's like there's a book on his face... Oh.
Yes, The Social Network is "the facebook movie". But you would be foolish to dismiss it as such. At heart it’s an examination of creativity, obsession, arrogance, power and betrayal. And coming as it does from the pen (or keyboard) of Aaron Sorkin and directed by the keen eye of David Fincher I simply wouldn’t understand anyone writing it off as "the facebook movie". Fincher keeps a tight stylistic control on the film, using complimentary palettes rather than overt visual highlighting. It helps him no end that he is working from such a cracking script, courtesy of Mr. Sorkin.

Obviously, I can't comment on the real people involved or the actual events themselves: I don't know Mark Zuckerberg, I wasn't around at the beginning of facebook and I haven't read The Accidental Billionaires, the book on which the film is based. This is an adaptation of real events, so when I am talking of Zuckerberg or Sean Parker or Eduardo Saverin I am speaking of the characters in the film, not their real life influences and so on and so forth.

Interestingly, they haven't made Zuckerberg the out-and-out villain of the piece (which is what a lot of people thought was going to happen, what with his and facebook's various legal battles and privacy issues) but nor is he the hero. He is the creator of this amazing undefinable thing; sure he can be arrogant and distant and a bit of a dick but he's no schemer or planner. As Jesse Eisenberg brilliantly plays him, Zuckerberg is someone who's brain is operating on a different level; he doesn't process things (like social interactions, conversations and relationships) the way other people do. This is all layed out brilliantly by Sorkin and Fincher in the opening scene between Zuckerberg and girlfriend Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). The dialogue is fantastic and the conversation leaps around and you have to get involved and pay attention right there and then. It's a fantastic way to introduce the character. Eisenberg is written off too often as a Michael Cera-alike and while there are similarities to be sure, they are two distinct performers. I, for one, cannot imagine Michael Cera as Zuckerberg (or Eisenberg as Scott Pilgrim).

The hero of the film or, at least, the character who gains the most sympathy is that of Zuckerberg's best (and only) friend Eduardo Saverin. Eduardo, played by future Spider-Man Andrew Garfield, stumps up the initial capital for Zuckerberg's site and ends up getting screwed out of everything. He even has to contend with a crazy girlfriend! Eduardo and Zuckerberg start to become distanced as Eduardo, being a Business Major and the CFO of the fledgling endeavour, wants to get some advertising dollars in (there's also the petty jealousy Zuckerberg harbours towards Eduardo getting into one of the Harvard "first" clubs). They are approaching facebook from entirely different standpoints: Zuckerberg is the creative side, the driving force behind it. He's not sure what it is or could be, just that it's exciting and new. Eduardo approaches it from a more traditional business model; other websites make money from advertising, hence he schleps up and down Manhattan in the search for advertisers. That business model just won't work for this and Zuckerberg isn't interested in it (somewhat ironic now given the targeted advertising now practised on facebook). Garfield is a gifted performer and I'm looking forward to what he does with old Webhead. I would recommend you check out his quietly intense performance in Boy A

The real villain of the piece comes in the form of Justin Timberlake's Napster founder Sean Parker. He's everything Zuckerberg wants to be but he's also the cautionary tale. Parker is cool and suave: he's a rock-star of the nerd world. But he's also a Machiavellian loser douchebag who eggs Zuckerberg on with talk of billions not millions, actively works to distance the two friends and is paranoid, petty and sleep with young (teen) girls. He's creepy and gross and Timberlake brings the right mixture of charm and sleaze to him.

At its heart the film is about creation, ideas, ego and conflict. Its about who can claim ownership to an idea (structured as it is, with the creation of facebook told in flashback during two separate depositions), especially when said idea starts to involve large sums of money. Its about a socially awkward computer genius with one real friend in the world creating and defining the social experience in digital form. True or not, this makes delicious dramatic sense. I'll also quickly mention here Armie Hammer as the Winklevoss twins: good looking blue-blood "gentlemen of Harvard" rowers. They're the antithesis of Zuckerberg and he leads them on a jolly merry-go-round of procrastination, prevarication and provocation. Hammer perfectly conveys the sense of entitlement and outrage of the Winklevoss', twins who are used to having everything run their way, with their prize deflation coming in the office of the President of Harvard. 

It is also serves (rather unnervingly so) as a timely reminder of just how young facebook is. This website/social-networking site/whatever has changed the face of digital life, and indeed the social experience. I’ve been signed up since 2006, not long after it was first created apparently. It is, in this world of information, unusual to find someone, certainly of a particular age bracket, not on facebook. Whether you're an avid, addicted facebook user, an occasional poster and updater or if you've never used this newfangled social media thing before, you should be getting to The Social Network. It's a fascinating portrait of an individual and a time and all the things that can go wrong with a good idea.


Well, today marks the first day of December. The beginning of the end (of the year) if you will. It’s a busy month all round; between now and the end of the month/year I have three 30th birthdays, a move out and then Christmas to look forward to.

I’m currently working on my write-up of The Social Network and haven’t even started on Some Like It Hot (I was very lucky to be able to see a 35mm print of this at the Wellington Film Society on Monday night). I’ll have these up soon though. Coming up in the rest of the month there’ll be my favourite films of the year as well as some contributions from guest writers. Excitement ahoy!

But for now, please allow me to cast my grubby eyes forward to the cinematic pleasures that still await before the end of 2010:

Film I have yet to see (and hopefully before the end of the year):
The Disappearance of Alice Creed
The American
Let Me In
The Ghost Writer

Coming out tomorrow:
Easy A
A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop
Rare Exports

Rest of month:
The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Tron Legacy
The Tourist
The Kids Are Alright 

That's 14 films in 31 days. I doubt I'll see them all before the end of the year, especially those coming out nearer the end, but I'll make my best effort to. 

So, two reviews coming soon and lots of end of year goodness to be had.

Want to contribute an end of year list? Flick me an email at